WHAT THE HECK IS THE CAUCUS AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?


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We are starting to hear talk about Caucus. So what the heck is it and why should I care? The short answer is that in our constitutional republic in Colorado it is the first step in electing representatives for our government through a democratic process. Caucus has been part of the Colorado political system since 1910 with a hiatus from 1992 to 2004, but it is not well understood, especially by those who have never participated. It is an integral step in our election process. Essentially caucuses are meetings of registered electors (voters) within a designated area who are members of a particular major political party. Caucuses are organized by precincts, which are the smallest political units in our system of government. The objectives of the precinct caucuses is to elect officers, which in Delta County are called precinct committee persons, elect delegates and alternates (back-ups) to represent the precinct members at higher Assemblies (the Delta County Assembly, the District Assemblies, the Colorado State Assembly and the National Convention) and help develop the platform for the party. These three objectives set the stage in how a political party is run at the county level - who gets on the ballot for a political party in that year’s elections and what issues go into the party platform. Caucuses are held in locations across Colorado and are open to the public. However, only registered electors of that political party and who live within that precinct are allowed to vote at the caucus.

How do the caucuses fit in to the overall election process? Elections in Colorado in 2022 will involve the following steps:

Precinct Caucuses – March 1, 2022.

County Assembly - March 19, 2022.

District Assemblies – CD3, SD5, SD7, HD54 &HD58*.

Held following the County Assemblies and before the State Assembly.

State Assembly & Convention - April 9, 2022.

Colorado Primary Election – June 28, 2022.

Colorado General Election – November 8, 2022.

*CD=Congressional District, SD=State Senate District, HD=State House District.

Since this is a non-presidential election, there won’t be a national convention for the political parties. Candidates running for federal office (U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives) will be nominated at the Party’s State Assembly and Convention. Candidates for State Office will also be selected at the State Assembly. Candidates for County Offices will be selected at the County Assembly.

Precinct Officers in Delta County are called Precinct Committee People or PCPs. They will represent their precinct at the monthly Delta County Republican Central Committee meetings with voting privileges. The duties of the PCPs are to represent the precinct at the County monthly meetings for the next year, organize voter registration efforts, distribute candidate literature, coordinate “Get Out the Vote” efforts, help build and grow the Party, and help with events e.g. parades, fundraisers, Lincoln Day Dinner, headquarters office, etc. and conduct neighborhood canvass (solicit votes) for elections.

All Delta County Republican Caucuses will be held Tuesday March 1, 2022. Credentialing opens at 6:30 pm, the Caucuses run from 7 to possibly 9 pm. Precincts will meet at the following locations:

Precincts 1-7 (Delta Area Precincts) Delta Middle School – located at 401 E. 10th St., Delta CO.

Precincts 8-14 (Cedaredge Area Precincts) Cedaredge Middle School – located at 845 SE Deer Creek Drive, Cedaredge, CO.

Precincts 15, 16 & 17 (Hotchkiss Area Precincts) Memorial Hall – located at 175 1st St., Hotchkiss, CO.

Precincts 18, 19 & 20 (Paonia Area Precincts) Paonia Elementary School – located at 846 Grand Ave., Paonia, CO.

FINDING YOUR PRECINCT:

If you do not know what Precinct you live in:

Contact the Elections Clerks in the Clerk & Recorders Office in the Delta County Courthouse at 970-874-2153.

The specifics of how the caucus will be run will be provided prior to caucus. The State Party provides a script for counties to follow. I’ll be writing another blog on how caucuses are run, sometime in February. But some questions can be answered now.

Who is eligible to vote at caucus?

To be eligible to vote in a political party's precinct caucus a voter must be:

  • A resident of the precinct for at least 22 days;

  • Registered to vote no later than 22 days before the caucus; and

  • Affiliated with the party holding the caucus for at least 22 days before the caucus.

Can unaffiliated voters participate in precinct caucuses?

No. Although unaffiliated voters may currently vote in Colorado’s primary elections, they cannot participate in party precinct caucuses. Although they may attend and observe.

Remember, the objectives of the precinct caucuses is to elect the precinct officers – the PCPs, elect delegates to represent the precinct members at the higher Assemblies (the Delta County Assembly, the District Assembly and the Colorado State Assembly) and make resolutions for the County Assembly to consider for presentation at the State Assembly to be put into the Party platform.

So what happens at the County Assembly, District Assembly and State Assembly & Convention? The County Assembly is convened and the delegates selected at the Precinct caucuses will vote to designate county candidates for the primary election and to select delegates to the congressional, state legislative and judicial district assemblies and the state assembly. So you can see that participating at the caucus allows voters to help select the candidates who will run for office in the upcoming elections. If you don’t attend caucus, you don’t get the opportunity to help make those selections.

The district assemblies are then convened to designate district level delegates to the national convention. The delegates also nominate candidates for Congress, the Colorado General Assembly, the State Board of Education, the Board of Regents, and District Attorneys. For Delta County, the District Assemblies will be held for Congressional District 3 (CD3), State Senate District 5 (SD5), State Senate District 7, State House District 54 and State House District 58. We published a blog in November discussing how Delta County is split between two different State Senate Districts and two State House Districts. All of Delta County is part of CD3.

The purpose of the state assembly is to nominate candidates for statewide offices to the primary election ballot. During the assembly, delegates will also be elected to the national convention, if there is one that year. Again, the delegates at all these higher assemblies are picked from those individuals who were elected at the Precinct caucuses.

The County and State Assemblies will be held at the following locations on the following dates:

Delta County Assembly:

March 19, 2022 at the Delta Center for the Performing Arts,

822 Grand Ave., Delta CO.

Credentialing opens at 8:00am,

Assembly runs 9am to approximately 1:00pm.

Colorado State Assembly & Convention:

Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention

Saturday, April 9, 2022 - 9:00 a.m.

World Arena, 3185 Ventucci Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO

The Colorado Primary Election:

Primaries are state-level and local-level elections that take place prior to a general election. Colorado utilizes a semi-closed Primary system. According to Section 1-7-201 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, “an eligible unaffiliated elector is entitled to vote in the primary election of a major political party without affiliating with that political party.” The Unaffiliated voters receive ballots for bith the Republican and Democrat Primaries. But they may only vote in of them. Colorado’s Primary is June 28, 2022.

The culmination of all these activities is the General Election. This year the general election will be held Tuesday November 8, 2022. So if you want to help select the candidates who end up on the ballot on November 8 and develop the platform for the GOP, come to the caucus and participate. You may even become a delegate! Get Involved! Be a Part of our Representative System of Government.

David Bradford

Delta County Republican Central Committee Chairman


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